Some customers of American network AT&T were able to watch the first episode of the final season of Game of Thrones earlier than everyone else.
The season premiere – one of the most anticipated television events in history – aired at 9 p.m. EST last night for millions of Game of Thrones fans across the US (and indeed, over here, for those of us willing to stay up until 2am). But lucky fans with access to AT&T's streaming service, DirecTV Now, were able to watch the show four hours early.
AT&T acquired HBO when it took over Time Warner in June 2018. The move allowed the company to stream HBO shows on DirecTV Now. Insider first reported that DirecTV Now customers were sent alerts at 5 p.m. on Sunday saying the Game of Thrones episode was available to stream, and that people were gleefully tweeting about their early access.
So PSA. Tonight's #GamesOfThrones premiere dropped hours and hours early on Direct TV so BE CAREFUL ONLINE FOR TWITTER IS DARK AND FULL OF SPOILERS.
— Joanna Robinson (@jowrotethis) April 14, 2019
— Coach Carle (@Coach_Carle) April 14, 2019
CNBC confirmed with AT&T it was indeed a screw-up.
“Apparently our system was as excited as we were for Game of Thrones last night and gave a few DirecTV Now customers early access to the episode by mistake,” an AT&T spokesperson told Gizmodo. “When we became aware of the error, we immediately fixed it.”
There’s no reason to think this wasn’t an honest mistake, but it doesn’t hurt AT&T to signal to its customers that a subscription could get them early access. It’s hard to imagine that AT&T releasing such a momentous episode early then issuing a lighthearted statement about the mistake wouldn’t upset some high-level employees at HBO. If so, there’s not much they could do about it now. [Insider, CNBC]